Over a decade ago there were several concept taxis produced with one eye on modernising and electrifying a British institutional fleet vehicle. There was famously the electric Metrocab which sadly never made it to market, the Karsan concept black cab and then also a little-known Volkswagen Taxi Concept.
The black cab which was showcased in the capital’s financial district back in 2010 was a Volkswagen taxi based on the forthcoming UP! city car.
Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design at Volkswagen at the time, designed the vehicle to meet the growing challenges faced by vehicles in modern cities which included tighter restrictions on space and emissions.
The Volkswagen Taxi Concept was powered by an electric motor fed by lithium-ion batteries. With a capacity of 45 kW/h the batteries allowed the electric motor to generate a maximum power output of 115 PS, translating to a theoretical top speed of 74 mph.
The range of the Volkswagen Taxi Concept was estimated to be an impressive 186 miles between charges with an 80 per cent charge taking around one hour to complete.
The vehicle measured 3,730 mm in length, 1,680 mm in width and 1,600 mm in height and was shorter than its current smallest Volkswagen on the market, the Fox. With room for just two adults to be seated plus an allocated area for luggage, the taxi would have always struggled to meet existing licensing requirements, but the concept was more about what could be achieved moving forwards.
The theme running throughout the concept was simplicity. The concept delivered an elegant, clutter- free look to the interior, with the major functions of the vehicle including climate, entertainment and even the taxi meter all grouped onto one touchscreen display mounted next to the driver. Fast forward a decade and minus the meter, these touches are now prevalent in modern day taxis.
Intriguingly the daytime running lights mounted within the headlight units were joined by a distinctive ‘Taxi’ light on the roof. Gone went the orange light, and in came a unit with two settings – it glowed green, indicating when it was free and red when it was not.
At the rear, the light units were integrated into the 60:40 split tailgate, behind which were a pair of cubbies to house the belongings of the driver.